This I Believe

Ashley - Auburn, Kentucky
Entered on November 13, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe respect is important for a meaningful and fulfilling life. As a child, my grandfather was one of the first people to teach me about respecting others. As a retired Marine, he valued being seen as a respectful man and wanted his family to carry on the respectful nature his name carried with it. So he thought it was necessary to teach all of his grandkids about respect. He did this by sharing a story with us. While in basic training, he had a class on survival in combat. The instructor was a small man with a limp and a smile. He didn’t really like him and wondered what he could teach them. The man started off by pulling off his shirt and rolling up his left pant leg. He showed them all the bullet holes and scars he had. Even after being shot so many times, he was still fighting the enemy. After all of this, my grandfather had more respect for that man than he thought he could have for anyone. This is when my grandfather realized what respect was.

The dictionary defines respect with words such as consideration and thoughtfulness. However, I like the definition Tony Blair, gave. He said, “Respect is a way of describing the very possibility of life in a community. It is about the consideration that others are due. It is about the duty I have to respect the rights that you hold dear. And vice-versa. It is about the reciprocal belonging to a society, the covenant that we have with one another.”

When most of us think about respect we think of helping the elderly across the street. However, there are many other ways to be respectful. Respect is something that is earned. This is done by doing simple things like considering someone else’s needs, feelings, or thoughts. It can also be done by just being an attentive listener.

So why is achieving respect important?

Respect is what drives the success of our communities and our nation. Respect can’t be controlled by the government, so respect has to come from within the community. People have to realize they have a responsibility to respect the other people around them.

Even though I realize the importance of respect, what it can accomplish still amazes me. Even when you don’t realize the importance of respecting someone at that moment, the result in the future could be life-changing.

Respecting others is extremely important. Respect is something that everyone should strive for. It is vital to the success of lives, our communities, and our nation. As Tony Blair explains, “…it is the answer to the most fundamental question of all in politics which is: how do we live together?”